Small things make a big difference

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Logo: The Barn Owl Trust

By Kaye Thomas, Administrator and Digital Media Officer

Barn Owl in flight
(Russell Savory)

Who are we?

The Barn Owl Trust is based in a beautiful, wooded valley near Ashburton. It was founded by a small group of volunteers in the 1980’s and achieved charitable status in 1988. This small national charity is made up of dedicated staff and volunteers working to stop the rapid decline of Barn Owls in the UK and to try to reduce the pressure put on them from environmental and anthropogenic factors.

We believe that through conservation and increased environmental awareness, we can reverse the Barn Owl’s decline and protect their habitat. As an apex predator, the conservation of Barn Owls also benefits a range of other fauna and flora - native grassland and wildflower species, and a host of invertebrates that use these species, as well as small mammals and other farmland birds that rely on this ecosystem. Our work includes education, training, research and practical conservation. We build and erect Barn Owl nestboxes and manage a 26-acre nature reserve in Devon. We rescue and rehabilitate injured owls at our owl hospital and provide a sanctuary for those that cannot be released. We work closely with landowners, councils, and the public to foster awareness on how to increase Barn Owl numbers and maintain populations. We work closely with planning consultants where applications may threaten occupied nests and we are the main source of Barn Owl training for Ecological Consultants and Professional Surveyors across the UK. We rely solely on donations and legacies from our supporters.

Financial support

Barn Owl perched on a wooden post
(Russell Savory)

We are extremely lucky to have many wonderful supporters! These individuals help us to conserve our beautiful Barn Owls and their environment in lots of ways…

  • One of the biggest sources of support that we receive comes from legacies, which helps us to protect the Barn Owl for future generations. Even the smallest legacy enables us to start and continue projects that otherwise would not be viable.
  • Our next most important source of funds is donations from individuals. We receive regular payments from people via BACS or card, one-off donations and donations given at Barn Owl Trust talks and events that we attend. Many people are under the impression that they have to donate a large amount to make a difference, but this just isn’t the case. Smaller donations matter just as much as the large donations, and every penny helps keep the charity running.
  • We have options to donate in different ways by adopting a Barn Owl, becoming a ‘Friend’ of the Trust (from as little as £3/month) and Owl Aid gifts which help us care for injured owls (for example £7 feeds an owl for a week or £25 covers the fuel for a trip to the vet). These are popular gifts!
  • Training courses – we currently offer an online Barn Owl Ecology, Surveys and Signs course (the online version of the advanced course is currently in production) and the certificate from this course is accepted by Natural England in lieu of one reference for the Schedule 1 Barn Owl licence, getting professionals one step closer to becoming qualified surveyors. In this way we can not only bring in money for the Trust, but we are secure in the knowledge that we are sending people out to continue our hard work that are suitably and well qualified and will grow awareness for us.
  • Income from sales of the Barn Owl Conservation Handbook go straight back into Barn Owl conservation.
  • Donations received for the talks we give (school talks as well as presentations for adult groups covering Barn Owl ecology, habitat, decline and climate change) also support our work by enabling us to do more talks and thus spreading the word about the Trust.

How we use the money that is donated to us

We work hard to ensure that every penny is spent wisely on practical solutions to the problems that Barn Owls face. Every donation supports owl conservation, education, information and advice, research, training, owl rescue and rehabilitation and a sanctuary for rescued owls. For every £1 that is donated, 87p goes directly towards Barn Owl conservation. The other 13p helps us to run the charity and to raise the next £1. We spend 57p from every £1 on practical conservation work, such as making and erecting nestboxes and caring for casualty owls, and 29p on running our free national information and advice service. Support costs include running vehicles, paying phone bills, insurance, etc., and our management costs include accountancy and the end of year ‘independent examination’. You can find out more about Barn Owl Trust finances here.

There are also many ways that our supporters contribute to our work that don’t involve spending money and these are vital not only to keep the Trust in people’s minds, but also for us to give back some of our knowledge and expertise.

Pie chart showing how the charity uses its donations
  • Volunteering – we have many amazing volunteers who help with practical conservation work on our reserve, assist our nestboxing team and support our admin team during busy times. There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on to keep the Trust running and these volunteers help take on the extra work.
  • Our followers on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), who like and share our posts, help hugely to promote the work we do. We don’t have a visitor centre as our owls are not captive-bred and therefore do not appreciate human visitors, so we mainly only get to meet people face-to-face at the few events we go to and during site visits.
  • The Barn Owl Trust builds, erects and sells Barn Owl, Tawny Owl and Little Owl nestboxes, along with other gifts in our shop. We also give away free nestbox construction plans so that individuals can build their own boxes. We also offer free habitat advice and advisory visits so that landowner can manage their land for Barn Owls and other wildlife. Donations we receive help support this work, and landowners putting up owl nestboxes and carrying out habitat management helps us in our aim to conserve the Barn Owl and its environment.
  • The Barn Owl Trust website has a huge amount of freely available information. We offer this information to help people stay informed about Barn Owls and other wildlife and climate change. We also hope that people will spread the word and educate others not only about Barn Owls but about the Trust and the work we do.

We are hugely grateful for the support we receive from so many generous individuals and in a small Charity, such as ourselves, every single penny is utilised to provide maximum benefit for our goals.

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Posted On: 20/11/2022

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